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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Character's Need / Listening / Processing

   *see footnote

In the first season of True Detective there were two scenes (one in the first episode, one in the second episode) in which each actor had to say the same sentence:  "I'm sorry," in response to the same information.  I think Michelle Monaghan performed it incorrectly in the first episode, whereas Woody Harrelson performed it correctly in the second episode.

Character's Need/Action:  We've established that the actor's task is to play the action/need of the character with each sentence uttered, and that a thought/image is driving the idea of the sentence (Don't Open Your Mouth Until You Know...10/2/17 post).

Listening:  I don't agree with Sandy Meisner's repetition exercise because although its purpose is to teach the actor to listen to their partner, being able to repeat what one has just heard is not what we do when we listen.  Listening is active participation, processing, trying to perceive the thought/image that our partner is trying to convey.  Accurate hearing is not the same thing as active listening.

Processing:  I think that it's necessary for the actor to be aware that we process our thoughts/images when we speak as well as when we listen.

Working just from some highlights of the plot in the first episode from the POV of Ms. Monaghan's character, Maggie, we know that she's been trying to get her husband's new partner over for dinner for three months, that lately, she's been insisting on having him over, because Marty (Harrelson) delivers a line to Rust (McConaughey), "We can't put Maggie off anymore," and we know that she woke Marty in the morning after a night he didn't come home, as he slept in his clothes on a chair in the living room, and although she didn't play her action(s) strongly enough once she woke him, making it difficult to hear her, we know that Maggie has a, so far, unspecified POV about her husband's job.  Of course, Ms. Monaghan needed to know specifically what that POV was (previous circumstances, backstory!).  Rust was drunk when he arrived for dinner.  Ms. Monaghan didn't respond to that in any specific way, and although the questions she put to him about himself when Marty left the table were incorrect non-specific actions, I'll not discuss each one here.  Let's just consider her response when she learned that his daughter died.  His daughter died, his marriage died -- her little girls were sitting there -- she saw him looking at her daughters -- I think that it was necessary for her to process his experience as she responded with "I'm sorry."

Harrelson had a very similar action in the scene in the car during the second episode, and he had to say the same two words, "I'm sorry."  He performed correctly; he processed the concept, the idea, of the dead child.

*Jeff Solema now downloads selected footage. Thanks!

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